The Morehead News

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December 14, 2011

Officials say supervision key to MRS inmate reentry

Dec. 9, 2011 — Starting next month, probation and parole officers across the state, including Rowan County, will begin supervising a larger number of clients set to be released from state prisons.

On Jan. 2, approximately 1,160 offenders¸ and up to 300 each month thereafter, will return to Kentucky counties through Mandatory Reentry Supervision (MRS), a statutory provision of the Kentucky General Assembly’s sweeping penal code reform bill to reduce prison populations and costs and to bolster public safety.

HB 463 reforms guidelines for a number of sentencing, corrections, treatment and inmate release provisions.

KRS 439.3406 outlines the criteria MRS, which grants supervised release to offenders who meet certain criteria. (See Page A-8 for details).

By statute, the Kentucky Parole Board must grant MRS to eligible inmates in compliance with HB 463.

      According to the law, “the board shall order mandatory reentry supervision and the terms of supervision, which may include electronic monitoring, for an inmate who has not been granted discretionary parole six months prior to the inmate’s minimum expiration of sentence.”

      Supervision is the key word to emphasize, according to both DOC and Rep. John Tilley (D-Hopkinsville). Tilley is the chairman of the Kentucky General Assembly House Judiciary Committee and the sponsor of HB 463.

      “These offenders are not just being turned out into the community in large numbers,” Tilley said. “They are being paroled to their communities under the supervision of trained parole officers.”

      This means former inmates will report regularly to a parole officer, be subject to drug screens, and must remain in compliance with their release conditions.

      Both Tilley and DOC officials maintain that misinformation about MRS obscures both the intent and reality of the coming reentry program.

 “The inmates scheduled for release as a result of MRS would serve out and be discharged in another six months anyway,” said DOC Public Information Officer Todd Henson. “The only different is that in six months they would be released on the streets with no supervision, no assistance and no resources made available to them.”

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